Test series done and dusted! Next stop? The T20I series, which begins on October 24. Before that, Australia take on UAE on Monday, October 22 in Abu Dhabi itself, at 2 pm local (1000 GMT). Big moment for the latter. Do join us then. In the meanwhile, you can do some globe trotting and check out the matches being played in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. ADIOS! TAKE CARE!
'TROPHY AAPKI !' says Ramiz Raja to a jubilant Sarfraz Ahmed, which means that the trophy is yours. The Pakistan team get into a huddle and there are smiles all around as the trophy is lifted. They thoroughly deserve this. They have been the dominant team throughout and should have won the series 2-0 but well, 1-0 is not bad. Australia have a lot of soul searching to do but unfortunately, they do not have much time, as their next Test is back home, where the conditions will be totally different. So even if they did learn lessons from this debacle, hard to see how they will use and apply those.
Victorious Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, says that he is fine now and had gone to the hospital due to concussion issues. Agrees that his 147-run stand with Zaman changed the tempo while Mohammad Abbas set up the win for them. Praises the debutant Fakhar for scoring 50-plus in both the innings but overall, he says that whoever played from the squad has done well. Which means, he adds, that the bench strength is really strong - only proper grooming is needed. On his own knock, he says that it is always important for a captain to perform which can motivate the team. On the upcoming T20I series, Sarfraz says that Australia are known to be a good T20I unit and they recently played against each other in Zimbabwe, where Pakistan did well. Stresses that the unit needs to do well in that format as well to challenge the Aussies.
Australian skipper, Tim Paine, admits that the first innings was where the match was lost - especially after Australia had Pakistan on the mat at 55/5. Feels that his bowlers did decently on that wicket, getting Pakistan all out twice (actually took 19 wickets) and blames the batsmen for the big loss. Rues the defensive technique for not being able to guts it out in the middle. Says further that they will go back to the dressing room and identify all the weak and strong points but is very disappointed that the team could not build on from the fight in Dubai. Says that there are a few positives in spite of the loss, citing Nathan Lyon as the biggest plus.
MOHAMMAD ABBAS HAS BEEN NAMED THE MAN OF THE MATCH FOR HIS 10-WICKET HAUL AND MAN OF THE SERIES FOR 17 SCALPS. He is thankful to his stars and dedicates his performance to his daughter, whose birthday it was yesterday. On his bowling performance, he says that he just worked on his strengths, saw some videos about his lengths and lines, then worked on the weaknesses of the Aussie batsmen. Stresses that he just stuck to the basics, hitting a consistent line and length. Feels over the moon on getting his first 10-wicket haul, after missing out in England. On being asked about playing one-day cricket, Abbas says that if Pakistan want him to play ODIs, he is more than happy to do so.
So who do you think should be the Man Of The Match? Fakhar Zaman - for half centuries in both innings, or captain Sarfraz, who took the bull by the horns with his side reeling at 57/5 in the first innings or the man who is the talk of the town - Mohammad Abbas? Stay tuned for the presentation...
Talk about Pakistan - they nearly threw the advantage away after winning the toss but that 147-run stand between debutant Fakhar and captain Sarfraz turned the tides. Both were unlucky to miss out on their tons but had done enough damage on the Aussies who were tired in the heat. And then, on a lifeless pitch, Mohammad Abbas turned it up. A 10-fer in his 10th Test, which is actually commanding, considering that majority of his wickets have either come on highways or dust-bowls.
Whenever the Kangaroos travel, they kind of get a hiding. Does not matter who the opposition is. Their batting does not turn up while the same bowlers who roar back home, seem clueless for hours. Here, in the first innings, it was still a terrific effort to bowl out Pakistan on Day 1. However, inability to score even 200 saw them concede a big lead and come the second innings, well it was no surprise.
The Australians meanwhile, look downcast and glum. Totally outplayed but it is not the first time, is it? Beaten by Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, then by India in India, beaten by Bangladesh too, in Bangladesh and now a drubbing here. They came to the Middle East in 2014, lost heavily in both games and come 2018, the result has not been much different, save aside a last day fight in the first Test.
Whom do we see here? It is Sarfraz Ahmed. And straightaway the instructions come out as he shakes hand with coach Mickey Arthur. 'CHALO!' he yells, though with a smile, to his team mates. It is his first Test series win as a captain (Minimum 2 Tests). Does not look overjoyed but boy, he cannot hide his glee.
Jon Holland is the last man in because Usman Khawaja will not come out to bat.
Caught behind! Is that the end of Labuschagne? He has been given out caught but it has been reviewed.
Mohammad Abbas to continue.
The players are back out in the middle. Yasir Shah to start off proceedings after the break. Nathan Lyon to face. Here we go...
Welcome back to a still overcast, but slightly better-looking Abu Dhabi. The clouds are still hovering but there is a significant patch of blue as well. The drizzle has stopped completely.
... DAY 4, FINAL SESSION ??? ...
What now for Australia? They have got a good whole hour to ponder on what to do. Nothing much can be expected from the tail-enders, except maybe a bit of a rearguard action. Could they hang around to help Labuschagne get to his 50? Then probably his century? If they do that, it could put some healing on the wounds. Join us back at 1330 local (0930 GMT) for all the action from the second session.
Just as we thought that Abbas would be the sole wicket taker today, Yasir Shah joined the party towards the end of the session with two scalps to his name. With the way the pitch is turning, he might be the sole obstacle in Abbas' path to get a fifer.
Australia started Day 4 nicely, scoring runs in boundaries. They scored 24 runs in 6 overs before the deadly spell of Mohammad Abbas came about. He struck in his 4th over and got 4 wickets in the space of 18 balls. At that point of time, it looked like the Aussies would get rolled over in the first session itself but Mitchell Starc and Marnus Labuschagne got a decent partnership going.
What a session. 33 overs, 108 runs and 6 WICKETS. Given the way Abbas was bowling, it looked like we will never have a second session at all.
Time for the kill. Here returns Mohammad Abbas. 13-1-53-4 so far.
Nathan Lyon walks in at number 9, replacing Siddle.
Peter Siddle walks in at number 8, replacing Starc.
Starc has been adjudged LBW! Needless to say, he has reviewed it. Looks out though...
Bilal Asif has finally been given the ball. 2-1-5-0 last night.
Second DRINKS BREAK of the session. Because it is an extended one, of 150 minutes to be precise. Pakistan have been all over Australia but the last few minutes have provided some soothing to the visitors. With Abbas out of the attack and the field, there seems to be breathing space and the tourists have managed to stop the wicket flow for now. For how long though, is the question, Marnus Labuschagne has looked extremely good and any score in excess of 50 in this inning will do his confidence a world of good.
Change of bowling. Mir Hamza gets a chance to bowl, giving Abbas a break. 3-0-19-1 it was last evening.
Is that a stumping? Referred upstairs. Labuschagne did drag his foot outside the line. Did he get it back in?
Just an update on the session timings. Today is Friday and hence, there is some revision. The first session will be a 150-minute one, from 10 am till 12.30 pm. Then, we will have a an hour's break for prayers. The second session will last for just 90 minutes. While the final session will be a scheduled 120 minutes. Though, there is a high likelihood that we might not get into session 2 at all...
Who is in next to face the music? Mitchell Starc at number 7. Might as well call up home to keep the food ready. Looks like we are going home early...
Mohammad Rizwan is upto the stumps.
Tim Paine walks in at number 6, replacing Finch.
A helmet has been called for. So Marnus Labuschagne now has two men for company in front of him - Babar Azam at short leg and Fakhar Zaman at silly point.
Sweeper now comes in for Labuschagne.
Marnus Labuschagne walks in at number 5, replacing Mitchell Marsh.
Howzzzat????? Oh dear... Marsh looks to be plumb LBW. He has not been given out though. Abbas has convinced stand-in skipper Asad Shafiq to go for the review.
Mitchell Marsh comes in at number 4, replacing Head.
Asad Shafiq brings himself towards short mid-wicket.
Yasir Shah to share the attack with Abbas this morning. 3-0-6-0 so far.
The players are out in the middle. Mohammad Abbas to start off proceedings to Travis Head. Here we go!
Tim Paine is having a chat with Brendon Julian. admits that it is a big task, no doubt, needing another 491 runs. But also says that they will take the confidence from the previous game. On the weather, Tim says that they would like to play out every over that they get. Amidst that in all likelihood, Usman Khawaja will not bat, though a late decision might be taken, based on the situation of the game. On the plans for today, TP says they have been laid down pretty simple - bat long, get partnerships and score runs. On the freaking Azhar Ali run out yesterday, the Aussie skipper smiles and says that he has not seen anything like that before but compares Marnus Labuschagne's brain freeze with the same. Says that initially, even he thought it will be a boundary but then saw Mitchell Starc chasing the same. Cheekily adds that he deliberately did not shout on seeing the batsmen mid-pitch but slyly waited for the throw to come and did the rest. Smart cricket. (Not sure whether Niroshan Dickwella, Sarfraz Ahmed or Rishabh Pant would have done the same. Might have yelled their throats out to distract everyone).
WEATHER REPORT - If you are in Kandy, you might grab a candy and sit indoors, enjoying the rain. If you are in Abu Dhabi, you might be in for a bit of a surprise. There was a storm last night and it rained a bit this morning. It is heavily overcast with the sun looking to peak out. However, we should have a start on time.
Okay. Now, let us talk about the match. After being reduced to 57/5 in the first innings, this match has all been Pakistan's. They have not looked back since and as a result, set a target of a mammoth 538 in front of Australia. Talk about the overs, well, the visitors do have a possible 180 more. They need another 491 runs with a required run rate of 2.73. Easy, isn't it? Yaa... I remember once scoring 1024/4 in a computer game. Plenty of laptops and digital assistants around Justin Langer - but he will need more than just those to see his team fight the match out, let alone win this.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have also contributed to the breaking news factor. Their skipper, Sarfraz Ahmed, was hit on the head by a Peter Siddle bouncer yesterday and has gone to the hospital to see a doctor - reporting slight concussion. The 'hosts' do have a reserve keeper, Mohammad Rizwan, in the squad but will they miss their captaincy bit? A calmer Asad Shafiq has been handed the responsibility. Interesting. With Azhar Ali in the playing XI. Very interesting.
Let us focus on the breaking news first. Usman Khawaja did not take the field at all yesterday, due to a slight injury during warm-up. That 'slight' injury has ruled him out of cricketing action for at least 8 weeks. OUCH. He must be feeling the pain even more now. That means Pakistan need 9 wickets to wrap up this match and series, of which they have already got one, in the form of Shaun Marsh.
Australia, a wicket down. Also, a batsman short with Usman Khawaja injured. Pakistan are without their captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who got hurt yesterday. Does that even things a bit? Maybe not. Hello and a warm welcome - sorry, HOT welcome - to the fourth and possibly, the final day of the second Test between Pakistan and Australia in Abu Dhabi.
... DAY 4 ...
It was a long day for the Australians. Pakistan managed to post up a humongous total on the board courtesy four superb fifties from Zaman, Ali, Sarfraz and Babar. Now, Australia must respond. The task will be to save this match first. Bat as deep as possible and then take it from there. The surface is on the slower side and turning and will only cause more problems. The Pakistan bowlers will give them trouble and they will have to dig deep to get something out of it. Join us at 1000 local (0600 GMT) for Day 4. Could be the last day of the Test. Cheers!
The target is irrelevant right now. Australia lost Shaun Marsh today, when Hamza bowled him out, so have 9 wickets remaining. Post that, Finch and Head managed to hang on and end the day without suffering the loss of any more wickets. There were a couple of close calls, with Pakistan coming close on a couple of occasions, but nothing too threatening.
Spin from both ends. Bilal Asif on as well.
Spin introduced as Yasir Shah is into the attack. A slip and two short legs in place.
Travis Head walks in at no.3.
Mir Hamza to bowl from the other end.
A little update - Usman Khawaja isn't opening the innings because he was off the field for a good while due to injury.